German students are becoming more conventional and self-interested and are even tending towards right-wing nationalism, according to research commissioned by the federal education ministry.
Student economists, lawyers and engineers are most likely to have nationalist affiliations or sympathies -- 10 per cent in western universities and 17 per cent in the east.
National conservatism only holds sway among 3 per cent of all students in western German universities and 9 per cent in the east. Tino Bargel, of the University of Konstanz, who has studied student political opinion since 1982, said it was a worrying trend because economics and law students tend to get the top jobs and will be the leaders of tomorrow.
"The presence and recognition . . . of national conservatism and right wing positions, sometimes to the point of anti-democratic views, are disproportionately high among economists and lawyers. These opinions have the chance to come to the fore more often and seize the initiative," Mr Bargel said.
His research, Studierende und Politik im vereinten Deutschland, presented on the eve of last month's German general election, showed that the majority of students intended to vote "red or green". The Christian and Social Democrats (CDU/CSU) had only 21 per cent of student support and the right wing radical "Republican" party only 2 per cent.
But the results left a bitter aftertaste for red and green politicians, by revealing that even students who consider themselves leftwing or liberal are not immune from racist beliefs.
One third of all east German students and 14 per cent of westerners said they thought German culture should be protected from foreign influences. And 44 per cent in both east and west wanted greater immigration restrictions.